Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
- Member for
- 2 years 2 months
ST. PAUL - Minnesota education funding plans by the House, Senate and Gov. Tim Pawlenty are similar in many ways, but the amount they spend - and how they plug a deficit - differ. A bill the House passed 85-48 Thursday night would spend $13.7 billion on public education for the next two years, the same as in the current two-year budget cycle. The Senate would cut funding 3.3 percent, while Pawlenty suggests increasing spending 1.4 percent. To accomplish their higher spending, Pawlenty and the House plan to delay sending school districts state money.
ST. PAUL -- Concerns about Minnesota's economy and the tourism industry led lawmakers to reject a proposal allowing public schools to start before Labor Day. Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester, proposed allowing school districts to begin their academic year anytime before Labor Day, so long as classes are not held on the Thursday and Friday before the Labor Day weekend. "The proposal is not just about 'ma and pa resorts,'" said Rep. John Persell, DFL-Bemidji. "This is very much about our economy and this is not the time to be messing with the economy." Rep.
ST. PAUL -- Higher fees keep could keep spending on outdoors programs from deeper funding cuts. Even with millions of dollars in fee increases, some budgets may shrink rapidly, Minnesota legislators say. For instance, state tax money headed to the Pollution Control Agency would shrink by 19 percent under a funding plan senators approved Thursday 49-15. And the Department of Natural Resources would get 5 percent less state funding. To help compensate, senators approved increasing fees $5 million, slightly less than Gov. Tim Pawlenty suggested.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota representatives told state-run colleges and universities to hold tuition increases to a minimum the next two years. A bill House members passed 86-46 Wednesday keeps Minnesota State Colleges and University system tuition increases to no more than 2 percent a year for the next two years. University of Minnesota tuition is capped at 3 percent annually.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota House would give veterans programs more money, but delay or eliminate some agriculture spending. But for some representatives, neither got enough money in a Wednesday 83-49 mostly party-line vote, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed. "We are willing to fund dog parks and trails and hockey arenas," Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, said. "Where is our priority?" Rep. Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar, said his committee did the best it could to fund agriculture and veterans programs, given the budget deficit.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota representatives told state-run colleges and universities to hold tuition increases to a minimum the next two years. A bill House members passed 86-46 Wednesday keeps Minnesota State Colleges and University system tuition increases to no more than 2 percent a year for the next two years. University of Minnesota tuition is capped at 3 percent annually. The vote was mostly party line, with Democrats for and Republicans against. "The stimulus money really helped us with this bill," Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, said. "Thank heavens it was there.
ST. PAUL - Tim Pawlenty has not said whether he plans to seek a third term, but it might appear that way because Minnesota's Republican governor is rolling out improvements to his campaign Web site . A Pawlenty video welcomes people and a form next to the video box asks visitors to "join the team." It also features a large red box where visitors can click to contribute to his campaign. The site is to continue its overhaul over the next few weeks.
ST. PAUL -- Most Minnesotans' income taxes would rise under Senate Democrats' solution to the state budget deficit. Combined with budget cuts and the use of federal economic stimulus money, the $2.2 billion tax increase would help fill what otherwise would be a $6.4 billion deficit in the two-year budget beginning July 1. The tax plan unveiled Tuesday would raise taxes on all but 15.5 percent of Minnesota's 2 million taxpayers, Senate Tax Chairman Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said. A married couple with two children and a $90,000 annual income would pay $400 a year more.
ST. PAUL - The Minnesota Senate will consider raising all state income taxes, with married couples earning more than $250,000 annually being taxed at a new, higher 9.25 percent rate. Higher income taxes are the key to the Democratic-Farmer-Laborite controlled Senate plan that raises taxes $2 billion all told. Today's announcement sets up a three-way tax battle with the House and Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The DFL-controlled House on Monday begin looking at a plan that keeps all income taxes the same except for couples who earn more than $300,000. They would pay 9 percent of their income in taxes.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota House Democrats propose increasing taxes on rich Minnesotans, smokers, drinkers, businesses that recently moved to Minnesota and youths downloading Internet music. House Tax Chairwoman Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, said the bill is the biggest tax-reform measure in 20 years. She said it eliminates tax laws the state no longer can afford, items not fair and what is not working. Republicans, however, said the bill introduced Monday is little more than a tax increase for most Minnesotans.